How to Put the GRAND in Grandparenting…

Expert Tips During This Unusual Crisis 
an exclusive feature by Victoria Waller, Ed.D.*

Being over 65 years young with a doctorate in education, still working as an educational therapist, I have never thought of myself as one of “the elderly!” Unfortunately, this label is being used a lot right now during this stressful period, and is something society uses all too often when we hit a certain age.  Personally, I don’t like being called out like that – do you?

As this crisis has loomed, so has the feeling of isolation despite who and what we are; ‘stay at home, stay in place’ can often heighten the fact that we feel much older because the important dimensions of being without the comfort of our grandchildren and family have created a partition and distance.

Well, fear not…this situation and challenging time we are in should actually define us as truly ‘grand’ people! There is a new definition in accepting this title. Not only are we grandparents helping our grandchildren, but we have to be and are happy to be, the emotional support for our own children in what they are going through. Most, hopefully, are working from home — and also having their kids home all day. So, this is where we, the grandparents, can help our own children ease their emotional burden. Set a time each day (or a few times a week) when your children need you to be with their kids, and plan an activity to do with the grandkids online.

Here are some suggestions for you to see your grandchildren online and learn about interesting subjects. This can be accomplished by using Face Time or Zoom. Zoom is NOT hard to do.  If you have any issues setting it up, your children and grandchildren can help you. GRANDparents truly can make a difference – at any time!

The Week Magazine
This magazine has just started publishing The Week Junior, a weekly magazine that has the world’s best news and facts for young people. And believe me it does. I started getting The Week for adults more than 5 years ago and found the tid-bits of fun news totally immersed my students…ages 5-12! For instance: Jonathon, the giant tortoise who is 184 years old finally got his first bath at his home on St. Helena a British territory. He had nearly two centuries of grime on him. They washed him with a brush and a loofah. What child, or for that matter grandparent, wouldn’t love a short article like that.

The Week Junior has so many short, interesting articles and current weekly events that even you’ll want to keep reading more than one article at a time. This week’s articles were about the heroes who are keeping America going, a story on mountain gorillas, a donut shop that makes donuts with Dr. Fauci’s face on them, new flavors of Peeps, and the historic relief bill Congress just passed. I could go on and on. It will be the best weekly news you can do with your grandkids. Getting them interested in real news, interesting stories, and reading, and most of all loving to read. They’ll be happy, you’ll be happy and for sure, your own children will thank you for this time spent with their children when they really needed it.

Another activity to do with the articles is ask your grandchild to either tell you what they think or ask them to write their response…what did you like about this article?

Go to Newsela online and sign up for free short interesting stories to share with your grandkids. The latest one on the 150 goats that invaded a town in Wales was hilarious. They live outside of town, but since everyone is in quarantine, the goats have taken over the town. Stories are short and so, so interesting.

My go to for games for my grandkids is Amazon. I buy one game for me and one for them and do it on Zoom with them.

For kids learning to read there’s Splat!….such a fun game for beginning readers with all levels of words.

Learning Resources POP…my students love. There’s many of them teaching all the skills needed for decoding words. Parents or their teachers can tell you which games would be the best.

A very funny game
Lionel Messi is an Argentine soccer player, and he thought of the Messi challenge. Take a tennis racket and a roll of toilet paper and see how many times you can keep the roll of toilet paper in the air by hitting it with the racket. I did it with my husband watching and he freaked and yelled, “Oh no, you’re using our toilet paper!”

And of course, read, read, read. There are so many great books out there. You can ask your grandchild what they’re interested in and buy a non-fiction book about their favorite subject. Or get a list from Google of the best books for kids. But before buying, ask your grandkids what they’re interested in. Reading aloud not only teaches but can calm the children down in this very unusual time.

Good luck and don’t forget that toilet paper roll!

*As an educator for over 40 years, Dr. Victoria Waller has taught thousands of students to read and write using their passions and strengths: sharks, roller coasters, rocket science, the Titanic and even Pokemon, to name a few. The children learn to read, but more importantly, “love” to read, which lasts a lifetime!